First, I kind of hate this cover. But at least her head isn't cut off completely, and I can vouch for the content between the covers.
I first read Libba Bray earlier this year when I picked up The Diviners for Jazz Age January. I was completely sucked into that big ole tome (500+ pages), and it prompted me to pick up A Great and Terrible Beauty, one of the books that's been on my TBR the longest.
I borrowed a blurb from Goodreads because ALL the complications.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. One night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma into her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control.
I found much of what I loved from The Diviners carried over into this book. There's a rollicking sense of adventure, plenty of the otherworldly, and a strong, if conflicted, heroine. There was a fair amount of brattiness, selfishness, and bitchery among the girls. That rang pretty true to me and my teenage experiences, but as an adult it was still enough to make me think, "Enough already," at times.
Brattiness aside, I enjoyed this book and I definitely plan to continue with the series. While I'm not a big series reader, I now find myself embroiled in not one, but two of Libba Bray's fantastical concoctions, and I have a feeling I'm in good hands.
Pub. Date: December 2003
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: Bought it!